Former South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson is trying to get acclimated to life as a professional football player, both on and off the field.
After going undrafted, USC’s single-season record-holder for passing yards in a season was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent. Thompson has been through rookie minicamp, training camp and three preseason games as he works to earn a spot on San Francisco’s roster or practice squad.
Through three preseason contests, Thompson has completed 7 of 15 passes for 52 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
He believes he has performed well throughout his time in San Francisco, and that he is just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better each practice and each game.
“I’m learning something new every single practice. I’m getting a lot of reps to be the young guy, and I’m thankful for that,” he said. “In the games, games are a whole different story as far as the pace and there are things that you don’t account for during practice.”
In just a few months in the NFL, the Boiling Springs native has found that there are plenty of differences between college and pro football.
“Until you actually see it for yourself, that’s what puts it all into perspective about how much there is to learn and just how to carry yourself and go about your business,” Thompson told The State. “I’m just trying to watch the guys that have been in the league anywhere from five to 10 to 13 years. Just watching those guys conduct themselves and just how much they’re in the cold tub, hot tub, getting stretched, massages, watching film, everything they can to be successful.”
Thompson added that moving from the Upstate of South Carolina to one of the largest cities in the country has been an eye-opening experience.
“It’s about the complete opposite of what I’m used to. There aren’t too many similarities between San Francisco and Boiling Springs,” he joked. “It’s different in the fact that it’s a lot more diverse. I’m seeing people from all over the world every day, which is cool. The weather is amazing. It never feels hot. I think almost every practice I wear long sleeves and I’ve felt fine.”
Having some familiar faces in San Francisco has certainly helped Thompson. The 49ers roster includes former Gamecocks Bruce Ellington, Busta Anderson and Mike Davis.
Thompson said he has good chemistry with his former college teammates after practicing and playing alongside them for several years.
“It’s really been unbelievable. I think all (last) week at practice I’ve thrown a pass to Bruce, handed off to Mike and then completed one to Busta all in a day-or-twos time here and that’s just cool to do,” he said. “You know you do it all the time at school but doing it at this level and having fun with the guys you’ve been around for four or five years is pretty neat.”
49ers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert has also been a huge help to Thompson in San Francisco. Despite the two battling it out at the same position, Thompson said the former first-round pick has done everything he can to help Thompson be successful.
“We’re just always watching film, always hanging out outside of the building, trying to just learn more about the game,” Thompson said. “I’m just really thankful that God has me here with someone who is willing to help me whenever I have a question and with whatever I need.”
In addition to adjusting to life in the NFL, Thompson is also adjusting to married life. He married his wife, Melanie, in June, and Thompson said she has been nothing but supportive as he chases his dream.
“It’s great just having a wife that’s understanding of everything I’m going through right now,” he said. “She’s carving out time to communicate throughout the day.”
While Thompson has been busy trying to earn a roster spot in San Francisco, he has kept up with the Gamecocks some this preseason. Thompson said he has confidence that Connor Mitch can lead USC to a strong season, but he hopes fans will be patient with the redshirt sophomore quarterback, especially early on.
“I haven’t talked to him yet but I’m excited for him. It’ll be good. I think it’ll definitely be a learning experience just because your first time on the field in real action against a team that’s going to be fired up, you know, first game of the season, all that stuff, it’s going to take some getting used to,” Thompson said. “But I think he’s got a good demeanor about him. If he can just stay calm and trust what he knows, what the staff’s given him, I think he’ll be fine.”